John Moraga went from a title challenger in the summer of 2013 to the number four flyweight in the world by the start of the new year. He started his climb back up the ranks at tonight's (Wed., Jan. 15, 2014) UFC Fight Night 35: "Rockhold vs. Philippou" event at the Arena at Gwinnet Center in Duluth, Georgia, on Fox Sports 1 against Roufusport product Dustin Ortiz.
He ran into a hiccup early when Ortiz landed a hard right hand over the top that staggered him for a short time. Then, Ortiz took Moraga down and worked from top where he was just active enough to avoid a stand up.
That was the entirety of the opening frame. Boring? You bet. Effective? Damn right.
The tide turned in the second when Moraga came out far more aggressive. It paid off, too, in the form of a shot that had Ortiz seeing stars, and I'm not talking about Ric Flair at cageside. He was so dazed, in fact, that a follow up feint actually knocked him down.
Or maybe it was one of those demons Paulo Filho was fighting.
Either way, Moraga came down on him and nearly choked him out but Ortiz showed unbelievable resilience to survive to the third and final frame.
It was a crucial round considering the fact that it certainly seemed the pair had split the first two. Ortiz was the more aggressive of the two throughout those final five minutes, including snagging a takedown. Moraga had his moments but when the horn sounded, Ortiz was on top raining down blows.
Final scores: 29-28 Ortiz, 29-28 Moraga, and 29-28 Moraga.
For complete UFC Fight Night 35 results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action click here.